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D.C. man helps raise more than $600,000 and counting for Pittsburgh synagogue victims

Shay Khatiri (Victoria Sanchez/ABC7

A Washington, D.C. graduate student is helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

Hundreds joined for a Jewish prayer service and vigil in Dupont Circle Sunday evening. The gathering wasn’t limited to those who speak Hebrew.

District resident Tony Collins is Christian.

“We stand together against hate and it’s important that we let everyone know that and that we will not be terrorized,” Collins said.

The group prayed, sang and leaned on each other for strength.

Shay Khatiri, 29, wanted to do more. He felt donating money would be a good start but the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies student doesn’t have much to give. So, he started a GoFundMe campaign.

“I thought to myself, ‘Worst comes to worst, it will raise like $500.’ Which is better than nothing but it’s a little above that now,” Khatiri said with a smile.

Over the weekend, the page raised more than $480,000. It was also a top fundraiser on the site and was shared more than 29,000 times on Facebook.

Khatiri isn’t Jewish. He’s a political refugee from Iran who considers himself a Deist. He said he has been on the receiving end of Jewish generosity. He currently is staying at a Jewish friend’s apartment while he looks for his own.

“I don’t believe my debt to them is by any account even. It was only two minutes of my life. People are giving me too much credit. Credit goes to those who have donated,” Khatiri said.

The pain of Pittsburgh stretched to Washington. The two communities continue to grieve and find ways to prevent something like this from happening again.

“This is outrageous. We must get through it. We must get past it,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend The Arc: Jewish Action.

Cotler said the organization’s work must continue.

“It is work that has a new urgency in some ways and in other ways it’s just a moment for us to grieve and recommit ourselves," he said.

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